If you’ve lamented my long absence from this blog … aww! That’s so sweet!
But yeah, I’ve been taking a long break from posting glucose results because, diet-wise, I’ve more or less got things figured out. How do I know this? Check out my A1C at the top of this page!
For over two years straight, my A1C has been consistently below 6. According to all of the charts, that’s considered “normal.” Hooray, I don’t have diabetes anymore, right? Well, no. I still got the beetus. I know I still got the beetus because my glucose will definitely spike to comically high numbers if I eat too much of the wrong thing.
How do I keep my A1C so low?
I’m definitely not a doctor, and I’ve done practically zero research into what the A1C measures or how to control it. All I can tell you is what my own habits are and how I tend to look at diabetes in general.
Below is a rundown of the various factors that I think contribute to my beautiful A1C numbers.
Low A1C reason #1: Genetics
My Type 2 diabetes is not the same as your Type 2 diabetes! Some people just seem to get it really bad. I’ve seen people on Facebook lamenting that they’re practically vegan and still have an A1C that’s just out of control.
Others, like me, seem to have a much easier time of keeping things in check. Lucky me! I may be extremely short and have a fake eye, but dayummm my A1C is looking good.
Oh, but I should also point out that my body type probably helps, too. I’ve been called “stocky” before, but I’ve only ever flirted with being overweight. My BMI (look for the BMI calculator on this page) puts me right on the border between “normal” and “overweight,” and I’m in pretty good shape overall.
In fact, about 20 years ago, a gay man told me — AND I QUOTE:
“You have a romantic body.”
Greatest compliment ever! So my body hasn’t changed all that much since then … maybe a few extra pounds, but I’m mostly the same. My body is still pretty romantic.
If your family history is the reason that you’re chronically overweight or obese, I imagine that won’t do your A1C any favors.
Low A1C reason #2: Drugs
Well, a drug, to be more specific.
The only pill that I pop in the name of diabetes control is a Metformin substitute. I don’t know how much it helps, but I take it pretty religiously.
I know there are other drugs out there like Ozempic, but I have yet to hear a doctor tell me that I should take it. Also, I live in South Korea, so it might not even be available here.
Btw, did you know that Ozempic stole (or, more likely, paid to license) an old 1970s song for their Oh-Oh-Oh-Ozempic commercial? True story. Old people definitely know the song, but this is the kind of thing that’s mind-blowing for the younger folks.
Low A1C reason #3: Diet
I don’t do “cheat days,” but I do cheat here and there. And by cheat I mean I eat some crap that makes people around me quietly think Oh no, should he be eating that? The answer is no, I should not be eating that ice cream, or that slice of pizza, or that bowl of noodles! But for the most part, I keep my diet pretty well under control.
When I go grocery shopping, these are the things I buy most often:
- Tortillas (thin ones, and you can probably get “low-carb” tortillas if you don’t live in Korea)
- Tofu, the firm kind
- Fruits and vegetables for my daily desk breakfast at work: cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, blueberries, musk melon (it’s like cantaloupe, but green), avocadoes, strawberries, and occasionally apples or Korean pears
- Stuff for tacos and tortilla pizza: jalapenos, onions, black beans, artichoke hearts, Hunt’s tomato sauce, Mexican hot sauce (Tapatio or Valentina), black olives, crappy frozen pepperoni, shredded cheese
- Stuff to eat with tofu: frozen vegetable mixes, frozen green beans, spicy Korean pork
- Cheese: bricks of colby jack, pepper jack, and occasionally sharp cheddar
- Plain yogurt
- Soy milk (the sweet kind)
I’ve never really been into “snacking” while lounging around the house, so I don’t have to resist the urge to buy Doritos, etc. The urge just isn’t there. But I’m confident that that’s the kind of thing you don’t want on your shopping list!
Low A1C reason #4: Lifestyle
Here are some things I do either occasionally or regularly:
- Walk my dog (well, these days I usually carry him because he’s really old)
- Ride my bike … this has not been happening a lot lately because caring for my dog is kind of a full-time job, but according to Strava (a mobile app), last year I clocked over 1,000 miles of pedaling
- Weekend boozing at home (!)
- Lay around the house
- Puff on my e-cig
So my lifestyle is sometimes good, sometimes bad. I’m not a health nut, I don’t obsess over exercise, and I do abuse my body in various ways.
Oh, and here’s a gif of my bike. I like flashing lights.
But also, here’s what I do either rarely or never:
- Go out to eat at restaurants
- Go to bars or clubs
- Engage with others socially
Even if I did have a social life, I think I’d still be able to keep my A1C under control. Maybe that’s because I’m at an age where “peer pressure” isn’t really a thing anymore, and anyone I socialize with is going to be cool about me ordering something separately from whatever the group is doing.
I think it’s pretty obvious that DIET is going to play a huge part in whether your A1C is where you want it.
Some diabetics don’t seem to worry about their diet and just eat whatever, and that’s cool. Well, I mean, it’s not cool as in good … but people are gonna do what they want.
What I want is to keep my glucose under control, except for the occasional ice cream bar when I know my blood sugar is low and I’ve got some room for shenanigans.
So if you’re trying to lower your A1C, the only advice I can give is to control what you can control. That means take your drugs, manage your diet, find time to exercise, and if your celebrity social life is leading you to eat and drink things that are no-nos, then maybe dial things down some.
The one thing you don’t get to control is genetics. So if you’re in Diabetes Hell no matter what you do, go yell at your parents!
Just wanted to let you know that you are such an inspiration to me. I feel like we are very alike in our diagnosis story. I am south Asian, mid-30’s, not super healthy but not unhealthy either, just a regular guy, and I also was recently diagnosed with T2 with an a1c of 7.5. It is a bit of a family curse for men in my family so I had always done little things that I thought would have been enough (barely had soda/juice, no sweet tooth, smaller portions of rice, etc) but it still got me! I always felt I might get it one day, but thought It would be a bit later. I was diagnosed about 3 weeks ago and feel that I am still processing, adjusting, and researching (probably googling a little too much!). Your journey gives me hope to bring my numbers down with a disciplined lifestyle. Thank you for this content, since there is not much out there for younger people to relate to. It is a scary feeling to have this diagnosis, but you’ve made it a bit easier.
Best of Luck
Hello Josh, thanks for the kind words! Joining the Diabetes Club sucks, but it sounds like you’re taking it in stride. If you’d like to connect outside of this comment box, you can find me on Instagram as @mmccauley, or as Terry at @barkymcbark (sorry for ruining the illusion that my dog actually runs his own IG)
Thanks so much for your blog! Ive been looking for something exactly like this especially the blood glucose of various foods (before and after)
It helps so much!
Glad to hear it – thanks for commenting!